HIV-infected patients develop abnormalities of glucose metabolism due to the virus and antiretroviral drugs. Spirulina and soybean are nutritional supplements that are cheap, accessible in our community and affect glucose metabolism. We carried out a randomized study to assess the effect of Spirulina platensis versus soybean as a food supplement on HIV/HAART-associated insulin resistance (IR) in 33 insulin-resistant HIV-infected patients. The study lasted for two months at the National Obesity Centre of Cameroon. Insulin resistance was measured using the short insulin tolerance test. Physical activity and diet did not change over the study duration. On-treatment analysis was used to analyze data. The Mann-Whitney U test, the Students T test and the Chi square test were used as appropriate. Curve gradients were analyzed using ANCOVA. Seventeen subjects were randomized to spirulina and 16 to soybean. Each received 19 g of supplement daily. The follow up rate was 65% vs. 100% for spirulina and soybean groups, respectively, and both groups were comparable at baseline. After eight weeks, insulin sensitivity (IS) increased by 224.7% vs. 60% in the spirulina and soybean groups respectively (p < 0.001). One hundred per cent vs. 69% of subjects on spirulina versus soybean, respectively, improved their IS (p = 0.049) with a 1.45 (1.05-2.02) chance of improving insulin sensitivity on spirulina. This pilot study suggests that insulin sensitivity in HIV patients improves more when spirulina rather than soybean is used as a nutritional supplement.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01141777.
Keywords: HAART; HIV; insulin resistance; soybean; spirulina.